BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) — U.S. officials said Wednesday that the Obama administration is poised to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Egypt. The announcement is expected this week, once official notifications have been made to all interested parties.
The U.S. has been considering such a move since the Egyptian military ousted the country's first democratically elected leader in July. It would be a dramatic shift for the Obama administration, which has declined to label President Mohamed Morsi's ouster a coup and has argued that it is in U.S. national security interests to keep aid flowing. It would also likely have profound implications for decades of close U.S.-Egyptian ties that have served as a bulwark of security and stability in the Middle East.
The move follows a particularly violent weekend in Egypt, as dozens of people were killed in clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters.
The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before the administration's official announcement.
President Barack Obama's top national security aides recommended the aid cutoff in late August, and Obama had been expected to announce it last month. But the announcement got sidetracked by the debate over whether to launch military strikes against Syria.
The U.S. provides Egypt with $1.5 billion a year in aid, $1.3 billion of which is military assistance. The rest is economic assistance. Some of it goes to the government and some to other groups. Only the money that goes to the government would be suspended.
Egypt has other allies who may be able to fill the financial void.
Saudi Arabia and some of its Gulf Arab partners have been a critical financial lifeline for Egypt's new government, pledging at least $12 billion so far and aiding in regional crackdowns on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. On Monday, Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip in a sign of the importance of the Gulf aid and political backing.